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iBerkshires.com Columnist Section

Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Downtown Commentary By City Councilor Christopher Tremblay

06:18AM / Thursday, May 03, 2007

North Adams City Councilor Christopher Tremblay
While the city has seen an insurgence of housing in the downtown many merchants feel left out. I would first like to say that if the merchants would like to see more customers they must stay open into the night. They may counter with "there are no people out at night", if you open they will come.

The City of North Adams has a very inviting downtown that could host a vibrant night scene if only there were a reason for people to go there at night. Benches or seating in the downtown that could draw people out to take in the much praised beautiful downtown may be a start. Our period downtown would benefit from benches and a beat cop to enforce the loitering ordinance.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts offers an incentive program called a DIF zone. This zone imposes, if you will, a "tax" on property owners. In exchange these funds are to be used in the zone to improve upon which is already there. These funds may be used for community policing, beautification projects, façade improvements, sinage and a myrid of other improvement related costs. One caveat is that a majority of property owners must agree to participate in the DIF program.

Should a DIF zone be enacted the City must also abide by rules governing where and for what the funds can be used for. The city currently spends hundreds, if not thousands, a season on the plantings in the downtown. We need to build upon this effort and a DIF zone may be an answer to the question of how do we continue to grow our downtown.


Chris Tremblay
North Adams City Council


[Editor's Note: For additional perspective on the downtown, read the iBerkshires Profiles Joanne Burdick at www.iberkshires.com/story.php?story_id=23073 ]
Your Comments
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Unfortunately, the businesses being introduced into the downtown are not destination/return visit businesses. I'm hardly inclined to think that patrons are going to wander downtown in the evening to browse a mattress store. Once you've got a mattress, it will likely be many years before you buy another. The "if you stay open they will come" approach fails to take into account the need for strategic planning when approving merchants for downtown locations. Only with the right mix of retailers (destination and return visit stores!) can you expect merchants to see foot traffic in the evening.
from: Johnon: 05-03 00:00:00-2007


 
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